PlanetF1 Australia Preview

Discussion in 'F1' started by DF1, Mar 25, 2010.

  1. DF1

    DF1 Two Time F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed

    Apr 10, 2007
    Wednesday 24th March 2010
    Australian Grand Prix Preview -

    This weekend is the proper start to the F1 season. Melbourne should always be one bookend of the grand prix calendar. It's immutable. The fact that it was shuffled one race along was proved to be a disastrous move by events at the Bahrain GP. Or should we say, non-events.

    I suppose the good news is that it is STILL on the calendar, despite a few strong-arm moves to get a lighting regime to match the Singapore night race. Just like last year the race will start later in the day to make it more watchable by European TV audiences and to make it more difficult for the drivers to peer through their visors.

    Another good things is that we are guaranteed a race with more drama than Bahrain and one of the guarantors of more action is a potential early Safety Car. The Albert Park circuit is a tight one with barriers in close proximity and a lot of dust off-line. It's Di Grassi country.

    Given that Bridgestone like supplying tyres that don't know the meaning of the word marginal, an early Safety Car will mean a lot of cars wanting to make their one and only pit-stop at the beginning. The Top 10 will all be on softs from qualifying.

    That should be an interesting spectacle for the stewards to sort out considering there now has to be a 55-metre gap before a car can be let out of its pitbox. When all the cars pile in at once it is going to be bedlam. For a start they're going to be doubling cars up in the pitlane and then they are going to have to shove their way out into the traffic.

    Races could be won and lost on Lap 2 because of a Safety Car. It will give an unfair advantage to the guy in each team who's in first and relegate the guy who's in second. Thus it will make qualifying even more important than it's been before.

    If the stewards don't have enough to do in these circumstances they're going to have to keep a close eye on the delta times of the drivers (the target time they're given to get back to the pits under Safety Car conditions). Because given the high stakes of the pit-stop lottery, one or two seconds are going to be vital. Nico Rosberg, for some bizarre reason, was allowed to go over his delta time by four seconds in the Japanese GP of 2009.

    That kind of tolerance will have to be minimised to less than a second if F1 is to maintain its credibility. My guess is that if 12 or 15 cars come in at once, it will take longer to sort out the technical pitlane infractions than it will to remove any debris from the circuit. Unless the race director Charlie Whiting decides to change things.

    One thing that won't have changed from Bahrain to Melbourne - apart from the starter motor holes in some of the more imaginatively vented rear diffusers - is the ability of cars to follow each other closely. Mark Webber was staggered at how difficult it was to follow another car in Bahrain.

    He was right. Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton had clear speed advantages down the straight and as we saw from some of the epic moves of 2009 - the lad knows how to overtake. If Jenson can't manage it with a car advantage then the only way to get some drama is install sprinklers not lighting.

    Going to Melbourne the McLarens are in much better shape than they were for Bahrain. Because like Canada, it's a low downforce circuit, a point-and-squirt track which will suit the MP4-25 much better because it doesn't seem to have any.

    So don't be surprised to see the McLarens closer to the Red Bulls and Ferraris this weekend. That is, providing their rear diffuser designs haven't been compromised by Charlie Whiting's insistence that the starter motor hole has to be the shape of a starter motor and not alphabetti spaghetti.

    While the sun shines down in Oz the top four teams will be taking a close look at the opposition and trying to work out what fuel levels they are having to carry. Red Bull have estimated that Ferrari were 10kg heavier than them on the grid, which might be part of the reason that Vettel opened up a two-second gap on the opening lap at Sakhir.

    Though it was thought to be an exhaust problem that slowed Vettel the team subsequently revealed that it was a defective spark plug that robbed him of the victory. Now Ron Dennis has weighed in that he thinks it was a fuel consumption problem. This would tally with the fact that Vettel's problem - instead of getting worse - levelled out and he was able to increase his gap to the pursuing Rosberg in the last two laps.

    So this will be interesting to watch. Buoyed by the knowledge that Ferrari are heavy and that Red Bull might need to stick more fuel in the tank, the rival teams may be more inclined to attack them on the opening lap. Running under a Safety Car allows them to save fuel, but I doubt anyone would be so brave as to build an SC period into their fuel calculations.

    Apart from the top four teams it is Force India who are likely to threaten to spoil the party in Q3 along with Robert Kubica and Rubens Barrichello. It will be interesting to see how Paul di Resta competes in Friday practice for the Silverstone-based team. First impressions count a lot in F1 and in recent years it was clear that both Sebastian Vettel and Robert Kubica were quick right from the start. One to watch.

    Having said all that, what we really want to find out is what happened to Stefan GP's Australian GP container. The FIA has to judge whether they're a suitable team to have on the grid in 2011 and Stefan said they were ready. Let's find that container and look at what they sent.

    Andrew Davies
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  3. C4YES

    C4YES Formula Junior

    Apr 7, 2008
    Orange County, CA
    Full Name:
    thanks for posting whole article, planetf1 is blocked here at work:)

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